The 7 biggest trends at DMA 2014 in San Diego


Energy levels were high at DMA 2014 - The Global Event for Data-Driven Marketers. Once again, the international data-driven marketing summit was the place to witness the latest trends in our industry.

With all components of the marketing mix present – from direct mail, to social media, all the way to data-driven cross-channel automation – the show displayed what’s new and what’s next for global marketing professionals.

Here are the 7 biggest trends to emerge at DMA 2014 in San Diego:

1. Digital on the rise

Walking the halls of the San Diego Convention Center, the massive influx of digital marketing solutions – indicated by scores of interactive flat screen displays at exhibitor booths – was hard to miss.

“While traditional, offline marketing solutions still remain relevant, exhibitor attendance in this segment is mostly flat on last year. Meanwhile, we see more and more technology and digital on the floor, with exhibitor levels up 15–20 percent,” said industry analyst Bruce Biegel, senior managing director of the Winterberry Group and board member of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)

2. Data with a focus on action

While DMA has already established itself over the years as a hothouse for Big Data solutions, exhibitors are driving the next step. “The attention has shifted from housing the data to analyzing the data and making it actionable. The conference is changing from an old-world, catalogue way of thinking to a new-world thinking around personalized delivery of messages,” said Kat Berman, Product Marketing Consultant at Selligent.

“There is a relentless focus on data and every single thing that can be done with it. Whether it’s aggregating, evaluating and leveraging the data into efficient initiatives,” said Bruce Biegel, adding: “The industry is recognizing that data is the fuel, and the interest has never been higher in what can be achieved with this fuel.”

3. Right on target  

The rise of automated, increasingly segmented audience engagement platforms brings targeting to the next level. “Targeting has come back as a strong focus for marketers, mixed with personalization of marketing messages and strategic interpretation of channels,” said Manu de Ros, Marketing Communication Manager at Selligent Corporate.

Next-level marketing automation platforms such as Selligent support targeting all the way from collecting anonymous user data to fully enriched personalized user profiles. Based on this intelligence, cross-channel initiatives can be tailored for maximum impact and aimed at appropriate audiences.

4. Snail mail, infused with intelligence

Despite the surge in digital solutions at DMA 2014, direct print mail providers are holding their ground. After all, postal messages remain the #1 choice for soliciting donations and charity contributions in the United States.

“If you try to solicit donations via email, people will either not respond or be afraid of scams and identity theft. Sending them a customized mail-out builds trust and responses,” said Zach Hillmer of full-service mailing solutions providers, the Southwest Publishing & Mailing Corporation.

But the biggest change: Mailing lists are fine-tuned with actionable customer data for improved targeting of high-value leads. “The full-fledged cross-channel approach still includes paper-based communications, but informed by ever more detailed data. The underlying trend is towards driving initiatives across integrated channels, both online and offline,” said Selligent’s Jan Teerlinck, VP of Product Marketing & International Business Development.

5. Regional is the new global

As automated marketing platforms allow marketers to collect increasingly refined customer data, advertising campaigns are adapted to resonate with audiences in specific geographic regions. From offering locally relevant content to steering customers to their nearest point-of-sale, it’s not only about who you market to, but where.

“As a solutions provider based in Europe, we are well aware of regional differences in culture and consumer behavior. The Selligent platform allows for clear segmentation of customer data according to cultural backgrounds and geographic location,” said Manu de Ros, Marketing Communication Manager at Selligent Corporate.

6. Nurturing long-term relationships with CRM and loyalty

In a world where trends change at the click of a mouse, strengthening customer relationships and engagement with proven retention strategies is still key. Savvy marketers are delivering value across the customer lifecycle based on actionable intelligence on customer preference and lifetime value, resulting in successful loyalty programs.

“It’s all about engaging in what we call a ‘One Life Stand’, meaning an increasingly exciting long-term relationship with customers,” said Ramses Bossuyt of Belgian auto distributor D'Ieteren in DMA 2014’s Thought Leadership Series on CRM, Engagement & Loyalty. Powered by Selligent, Bossuyt and digital agency Emakina created over 10,000 qualified leads and 60% CTR for the launch campaign of the Audi A3 Sportback vehicle in Belgium.

7. Future challenges: Interoperability and education

Asked about future challenges in the industry, analyst Bruce Biegel of the Winterberry Group pointed out: “With the rising complexity of marketing technology, interoperability – getting all the different platforms to work together – is becoming a global challenge.”

Another consequence of complexity: “Education of talent in the industry is also insufficient in many places. Creating relevant course content takes time, to a point where courses may be outdated by the time they are ready. Professional training will remain an ongoing task for years to come,” said Bruce Biegel.

On that note, the time to stay in the loop on future trends in global marketing by registering for DMA 2015 in Boston is now.